Teaching your kids cooking and cleaning up afterwards
The kitchen is the hub of the home – a great place for spending time together, learning about food and having plenty of fun. Teaching children how to cook is a really rewarding experience, and teaching them how to clean up is a huge part of that. It’s all about having a plan, keeping things interesting and making it enjoyable for everyone. And that’s where these tips are going to help.
1. Encourage a tidy working environment
If you’ve ever watched a celebrity chef go about their work, you’ll no doubt have noticed how they encourage working in a clean and tidy kitchen. That means instilling a ‘clean as you go’ attitude in your kids when they start to get interested in cooking.
There’s three reasons for it: one, less chance of cross contamination (which we’ll come on to); two, it’s much easier to go about your tasks when you’ve got room to do so; and three, it’ll make cleaning up afterwards a whole lot easier.
Introduce a clean as you go mantra in the kitchen and you might just find it easier to take that to the rest of the house. Think sweeping, dusting or teaching them how to clean a mirror so they can take a few jobs out of your hands.
2. Teach them the importance of kitchen hygiene
Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is where you’re most at risk from bacteria. Practicing food safety standards like storing produce correctly, using different boards for raw meat, veg, etc. and constantly washing your hands will help prevent cross contamination during cooking.
When we talk about cleaning up afterwards, it’s important to emphasise the importance of it to your kids. Washing down the boards thoroughly, spraying counter tops with anti-bacterial spray, and making sure that all ingredients that haven’t been used, including trimmings, are either stored correctly or thrown away. And, perhaps most importantly, making sure that the last thing they do is wash their hands.
3. Start off simple
We’re doing this in reverse, but now onto the easy part – getting the kids into cooking. The best way is to start off with simple jobs. Things like rolling out dough for biscuits, decorating them afterwards, and pressing buttons on appliances. That will be enough to spark their interest in the process, and as you go along you can start to give them more responsibility.
4. Move onto experimenting
Starting with simple tasks and building kids’ responsibilities is one way of encouraging them to get into cooking, and the same goes with recipes. Once they’ve got the basics down you can get the cookbooks out and start experimenting. Give them the opportunity to choose some options (making clear that it can’t just be cakes!) and then together you can pick out a recipe each week to try.
Experimenting with different recipes, ingredients and cuisines from around the world is very interesting and helps kids learn whilst they have fun. Cooking together is a really bonding experience, and one that you’ll both look forward to.
The key to getting kids involved in the kitchen is to make it interesting and give them responsibility. Cooking may well be the easy part, but once you’ve got them motivated to clean up afterwards you may see them jumping in with other tasks like we mentioned, and wanting to learn how to clean a mirror/dust/sweep properly… every little helps.
Give these tips a try and you’ll soon have a proper little kitchen helper at hand.